"This is a new day, so thank you to Steve Ballmer and his family. Go Clippers!" Los Angeles Clippers captain Chris Paul exclaimed on Monday at Staples Center.
Early Monday afternoon, the LA Clippers and their fans congregated in downtown Los Angeles to express support, gratitude and relief at having Steve Ballmer standing at the head of the LA Clippers.
After a tumultuous few months that saw Donald Sterling removed as owner of the Clippers, the players, fans and everyone in between finally gained legal clarity over the ownership situation. With billionaire Ballmer publicly taking the reins on Monday, the team paraded out the most recognizable and respected faces associated with the franchise.
"When I say that we are Clippers, now, it means something," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said when he took the microphone.
Former Laker Jordan Farmar, who recently signed on with the Clippers, sat on stage along with other new faces. Also present were Clippers' veterans DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Paul. Longtime announcer Ralph Lawler acted as the master of ceremonies When the time came to announce the man of the hour, Rivers pumped out the crowd and did the honors.
Ballmer came out wearing a blue Clippers hat and proceeded to live up to the hype he has created in the viral internet videos. After mixing with the crowd in an aggressive manner, Ballmer took the microphone and spoke with unique emotion.
"I love basketball," Ballmer screamed into a microphone with a prominent "LAC" logo on the handle.
He went on about how he was never much of a player, but he was a heck of a statistician. Likely, Ballmer will leave that job to someone lower down the totem pole. On the microphone, Ballmer exuded confidence and energy that was refreshing to the fans in attendance. Ballmer is not orthodox, but the players and coaches appeared to respect his genuine willingness to bring his own flavor to the event.
"I love Los Angeles," Ballmer continued. "We’re not moving the Clippers to Seattle."
Seattle has not had a team since the Super Sonics left and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since Ballmer lives in Seattle, a grander worry was that the Clippers would be moving to Seattle. However, Ballmer reiterated that he did not pay Los Angeles prices for a Seattle property.
Beyond Ballmer’s energy and the joy of the fans in attendance, the motif of the rally was championships and the Larry O' Brian trophy. Both Rivers and Ballmer had the fans at the rally chanting for the "Larry." When Rivers got serious for a moment, he said that the previous year was a "good" year, not a "great" year. Ultimately, the only way it could have been a great year was if the Clippers had won the title. For a team that has never even made the NBA Finals, expectations have changed suddenly and significantly.
During Ballmer’s speech, he pulled out a fan letter. That letter concluded, as did nearly every bit during the rally, calling for an NBA championship.
"The Clippers will win many, many, many, many more ‘Larry’s’ in the next 26 (years) than the past 26 (years)," Ballmer wrapped up the fan rally.
For anyone who wants to contact Ballmer directly, the new Clippers' owner also publicly shared his e-mail address: SBallmer@Clippers.com